NAMA un­veils new com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy for pi­lots, con­trollers

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - From Ab­dul­la­teef Aliyu, Lagos

The Nige­rian Airspace Man­age­ment Agency (NAMA), has flagged off the test-run of its Au­to­matic De­pen­dent Sur­veil­lance-Con­tract/ Con­troller Pi­lot Data Link Com­mu­ni­ca­tion (ADS-C/ CPDLC) in the na­tion’s airspace.

At the flag-off, which held last week at the Lagos Area Con­trol Cen­tre (ACC), was the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of NAMA, Engr. Ibrahim Ab­dul­salam, ac­com­pa­nied by other avi­a­tion paras­tatals’ chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Nige­rian Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity (NCAA), Capt. Us­man Muhtar and the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of the Fed­eral Air­ports Author­ity of Nige­ria (FAAN), Engr. Saleh Dunoma.

Daily Trust re­ports that in the lay­man’s par­lance, ADS-C/CPDLC could be likened to the dig­i­tal text mes­sag­ing in a reg­u­lar GSM phone as it com­ple­ments the voice calls.

In a sit­u­a­tion where a pi­lot is un­able to reach a par­tic­u­lar con­tact, he could de­cide to leave a text mes­sage that may not re­quire im­me­di­ate re­sponse, es­pe­cially on a busy net­work. Even when the net­work is fine, one could also de­cide to chat with a con­tact rather than do calls.

The fa­cil­ity, ac­cord­ing to NAMA, would aid avi­a­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tion, nav­i­ga­tion, sur­veil­lance and air traf­fic man­age­ment.

Our cor­re­spon­dent learnt that 24 NAMA staff, com­pris­ing 12 air traf­fic con­trollers and 12 en­gi­neers, re­cently at­tended a 10day op­er­a­tional and tech­ni­cal train­ing on the fa­cil­ity in Paris, France re­cently.

Ac­cord­ing to the NAMA weekly bul­letin made avail­able to our cor­re­spon­dent, a suc­cess­ful log-on and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with air­lines such as the Bri­tish Air­ways, Lufthansa Air­lines and Emi­rates Air­lines was ac­ti­vated, to the ad­mi­ra­tion and ex­cite­ment of the avi­a­tion CEOs.

Other air­lines that have also logged on to the ser­vice in­clude Arik Air, Ethiopian Air­lines and Eti­had Air­lines.

The agency, how­ever, dis­closed that it had is­sued an Aero­nau­ti­cal In­for­ma­tion Cir­cu­lar (AIC) to avi­a­tion stake­hold­ers world­wide, in­clud­ing air­lines, ser­vice providers and the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (ICAO) on the avail­abil­ity of the ADS-C/ CPDLC in the Nige­rian airspace.

The AIC is aimed at sen­si­tiz­ing stake­hold­ers on the com­mence­ment of the ser­vice in the coun­try and also to high­light the ben­e­fits deriv­able from the use The Rector, Nige­rian Col­lege of Avi­a­tion Tech­nol­ogy (NCAT) Zaria, Cap­tain Sa­muel Akinyele Caulcrick, has ex­plained the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the de­ci­sion of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to lo­cate the Boe­ing 737 simulator be­ing pro­cured for the col­lege in Lagos.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to our cor­re­spon­dent in Abuja, Capt. Caulcrick said that even in the ini­tial pro­posal, the Next Gen­er­a­tion Flight Simulator, as it is called, wasn’t meant to be lo­cated at the NCAT Zaria as it would amount to a waste of the fa­cil­ity’s po­ten­tials.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the orig­i­nal plan was to lo­cate the fa­cil­ity in Abuja, but on a sec­ond con­sid­er­a­tion, gov­ern­ment reck­oned the fa­cil­ity in Lagos would be more prof­itable.

Ac­cord­ing to him, con­trary to claims in cer­tain quar­ters that the simulator had al­ready ar­rived Nige­ria, be­ing moved to Lagos and handed over to Caver­ton to op­er­ate, it was still be­ing ex­pected. The $21 mil­lion simulator be­ing built in Canada is ex­pected to ar­rive in Nige­ria in De­cem­ber 2016, thus, he ar­gued, it couldn’t have been of the ser­vice, in­tended scope of the ser­vice, as well as re­quire­ments for air­borne equip­ment, flight plan­ning and op­er­a­tions.

Prepara­tory to the ac­tual take-off of the ser­vice, a suc­cess­ful Site Ac­cep­tance Test (SAT) had been con­ducted, just as a four-day site train­ing for crit­i­cal per­son­nel, in­clud­ing en­gi­neers and air traf­fic con­trollers drawn from both Kano and Lagos ACCs had ended in Lagos.

Com­ment­ing on the new fa­cil­ity, the NAMA MD, Engr. Ab­dul­salam said the feat was made pos­si­ble by staff of the agency “who toiled end­lessly to see to this won­der­ful ad­di­tion to the dig­i­tal­iza­tion of air handed over to Caver­ton to op­er­ate.

“Zaria was out in the first pro­posal. Abuja was favoured but the Fed­eral Min­istry of Fi­nance wanted a vi­able project and Lagos was pre­ferred af­ter a fea­si­bil­ity study,” he ex­plained.

Ex­plain­ing fur­ther, Caulcrick said, “The NCAT has sim­u­la­tors. We have two ALSIM sim­u­la­tors; the most mod­ern sim­u­la­tors avail­able. We can train some­body from the scratch till when he or she gets a li­cence as a pi­lot. But when the stu­dents leave the school and en­ter the industry, they have to train on the simulator on the air­craft type they would fly. So if you would fly a Boe­ing, you will train on a Boe­ing simulator; same with Air­bus and oth­ers. This par­tic­u­lar simulator in ques­tion is a Boe­ing simulator be­cause Boe­ing is the most com­monly used air­craft in Nige­ria. Al­most all the air­lines Nige­ria fly Boe­ing. Ev­ery six months, pi­lots are sup­posed to go for re­fresher train­ing but this train­ing is cheaper if done in sim­u­la­tors lo­cally. All over the world, th­ese re­fresher train­ings are done in sim­u­la­tors.”

He ex­plained that Caver­ton had be­gun in­vest­ing in a simulator traf­fic man­age­ment Nige­ria.”

He urged the in­dige­nous air­lines to tap into the ser­vice in or­der to take ad­van­tage of the ben­e­fits and de­liv­er­ables of en­hanced safety and ef­fi­ciency that come with ADS-C/ CPDLC.”

Eng Ab­dul­salam also ex­plained that the cur­rent test-run is in line with in­ter­na­tional best prac­tices to al­low op­er­a­tors adapt to the new ser­vice and make nec­es­sary com­ments and ob­ser­va­tions, prior to full im­ple­men­ta­tion sched­uled for Novem­ber 12, 2015.

He added that a sim­i­lar test-run at the Kano ACC would com­mence in a cou­ple of days time.

in when the Nige­rian fed­eral gov­ern­ment de­cided to in­vest in it. Thus with gov­ern­ment’s en­try, Caver­ton thought it wise to part­ner gov­ern­ment rather than com­pete with it. He promised that due process would be fol­lowed if a con­ces­sion would be done on the fa­cil­ity.

“Even if we would con­ces­sion it to Caver­ton to man­age, there would be agree­ments signed and all the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers like the In­fras­truc­ture Con­ces­sion and Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion (ICRC) and oth­ers will be in­volved,” he as­sured.

On the vi­a­bil­ity of the project in Lagos, Caulcrick es­ti­mated the sav­ings that could ac­crue to Nige­ria from lo­cat­ing it there as $4 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

“Presently, we spend $13m an­nu­ally to train pi­lots abroad. But with our simulator, we could earn, at least, $4m an­nu­ally be­sides the sav­ings on ho­tels and flight tick­ets. In no time, we would re­coup our in­vest­ments. There are also op­por­tu­ni­ties for im­prove­ment as the industry grows. Even the other West African coun­tries are also look­ing for­ward to us­ing the fa­cil­ity when we have it,” he said.

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